Supporters of Maxime Bernier and People’s Party of Canada Call Election ‘Rigged’

Some supporters have taken the “black pill” and believe the election was rigged against them because they won nothing.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
September 21, 2021, 6:52pm
The day after Canada's election, supporters of the far-right People's Party of Canada (PPC) are reckoning with the fact their "purple wave" never occurred.
People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier speaks to supporters after he lost the election in his riding, Monday, October 21, 2019 in Beauceville, Que. Bernier's wife, Catherine Letarte, left, looks on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

The day after Canada’s election, supporters of the far-right People’s Party of Canada (PPC) are reckoning with the fact their “purple wave” never occurred.

Many had hoped the PPC would win a fair number of seats, or even just take one or two and get a fringe voice in Parliament, but every candidate was roundly defeated. This has, of course, led followers to take the “black pill” (fall deep into cynicism) or declare the election “rigged.”

Advertisement

The party actively courted the anti-vax, COVID-conspiracy, and far-right vote in Canada and gleefully played up the anger, mostly towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the hopes the fringes would come out to vote for it. The gambit worked to garner large gatherings for some of the candidates and helped turn the election into the angriest one in Canada in recent memory. (At one point, Trudeau had gravel thrown at him, leading a PPC former riding president to be charged with assault.

While the party didn’t come close to electing a single candidate, it did get a far greater share of the popular vote than it did in the last election. The initial data shows the party was able to take 5.1 percent of the popular vote—a significant increase from the 1.62 percent it got in 2019. In real-world numbers, that means over 800,000 voted for the PPC (mail-in ballots are still being counted). Despite this increase, not a single candidate came close. Maxime Bernier, the party’s leader and by far the most well-known candidate, came in second but lost by over 20 percent of the vote (he lost by 10 percent more than he did in 2019.)

Advertisement

The fact the PPC did hit 5 percent of the national vote was important to the party, however, as getting above 2 percent allows it to draw on a government program that will reimburse a significant portion of campaign expenses.  

While the PPC wasn’t able to create the purple wave, Elizabeth Simons, the deputy director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told VICE World News it’s important not to overlook the impact the party had. 

“Maxime Bernier and the PPC are a willing vehicle for converging white supremacist groups,” said Simons. “They see last night as a success because they doubled or tripled their popular vote and the PPC will be eligible for federal funding through a campaign reimbursement program. The PPC isn’t going anywhere, and they’re dangerous because of all the organizing happening around it.”

In terms of pure politics, it’s unknown what the full repercussion the PPC vote had on the election. Several pundits believe the PPC cost the second-place Conservative Party seats in competitive ridings. For example, in Edmonton Centre, Liberal incumbent Randy Boissonnault narrowly beat out Conservative candidate James Cumming by just over 100 votes; PPC candidate Brock Crocker got 2,000 votes in the same riding. A few PPC supporters—obviously believing in the idea misery loves company—did celebrate ruining some CPC ridings. 

A large percentage of PPC supporters online are, unsurprisingly, taking solace in the idea that the election was “rigged.” The hashtag #rigged quickly began to pick up traction on Twitter and on Telegram—a social media platform beloved by far-right and conspiracy theorists for its lax rules—it’s the main theory. “The election was rigged before it was started, just like the USA,” wrote one supporter. Several actually used this as a defence against angry Conservative Party supporters who accused them of giving the election to Trudeau by splitting the right-wing vote.  

Advertisement

“The fix was in before the election,” wrote one supporter defensively. “It had nothing to do with who voted who. According to the rigged polls there weren’t enough votes for the PPC to make a difference.”

A few didn’t seem to understand the parliamentary system and were confused that the Quebec nationalist party, the Bloc Québécois, got seats while the PPC didn’t, with one writing, “Everyone I know voted PPC, yet even Bloc Quebecois got votes and the PPC got 0. I don’t think so.” 

Even for those who didn’t want to accept the “rigged” conspiracy, cynicism was the way forward. 

A collection of popular white nationalist livestreamers—who fully threw their weight behind the PPC and Bernier—had a rather difficult time during their over five-hour election livestream. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network thoroughly recapped the stream here, and reports it hosted well-known American white nationalist Nick Fuentes; a number of Canadian white nationalists; Randy Hillier, an Ontario MPP kicked out of the Progressive Conservative party; and his daughter, a high-profile PPC candidate.

It took the streamers a little while to realize the night was going south for the PPC. At first they didn’t realize that Bernier had lost his seat until well after the race was called. When they finally accepted he was losing by a healthy margin, they were “surprised, considering the polls.”  

Advertisement

“Just like in 2019, we realized what a bubble we were in,” said one of the streamers. “We’re seeing that this year when everyone is talking about how well we’re doing in online polls but that’s because we’re just extremely active online.”

This led the far-right personalities to grapple with the idea that they, and the PPC in general, might be a little too online and out of touch with “normal” Canadians.

Several of the streamers declared the loss a “black pill,” which is internet slang for slipping deep into cynicism and essentially believing the system is irrevocably broken. 

Courting the conspiracy vote can be a double-edged sword and, as the PPC found out, you can end up being targeted by those you worked so hard to recruit. In the Telegram page for a woman who has convinced her followers she’s the new Queen of Canada and is secretly executing politicians, there’s a conversation regarding the legitimacy of the PPC. Many shared they did not vote because the election wasn’t authorized by their Queen. 

“I like to think the PPC was controlled opposition with the purpose of taking votes away from the Conservatives, giving Liberals/NDP another potential coalition government,” wrote one of the Queen’s supporters. 

“PPC was nothing more than a deep state-funded psyop to help divide Canadians more while handing liberals more control,” wrote another.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.